Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Upon my easel is a piece of plywood. It has never hung in a gallery, never been the focus of attention, never even noticed. Yet this board is more important, more tangible than my greatest painting. It has seen my soul.
Against it I place my my canvases. Gleaming white, they stare blankly back at me, emptiness embodied. I sit across the room tapping my brush against a paintless pallet...waiting. The tornado in my mind, the lists of things undone, the voices of siblings and friends and children must fade. A sip of wine...
A flash. A dream. The music surges and I reach for the plastic tubes of color that litter the shelf. A soft curl of pigment slides into the divot. My hand hovers.
Joy, pain, love....searching, hiding.
Frustration and anger and ecstasy. The emotions of my life spill onto the ivory space, smearing into the images trapped inside of me. The board has seen it all. My sighs of delight at the perfect capture of morning sun; sailoresque swearing at a ruined forest glade. Sometimes I dance when I paint. Sometimes I throw down my brush and leave in fury.
Echoes of every painting I've done are on that board. I can trace them with my fingers. I recognize the color of that ocean sky last year...the black of the cave, the vineyard's emerald leaves. These memories are there--but only for me. It's just nonsense to the world. Like the coffee mug only you know the meaning behind. The last necklace your mother gave you before she died. That picture taken on vacation moments before the disastrous fight you wish you could take back.....only you know.
I wonder at the echoes I'm leaving in my life. In my children, my neighborhood. Do I leave remnants of myself? Fingerprints that stain? On one hand I desperately want to change the world--paint it richer and brighter for my sons....and on the other I would give anything for a giant eraser to rub out my mistakes and impatience.
The echoes of me.
I wonder what they say.


Therese said...

This is a beautiful, beautiful post! As a mother I can appreciate this sense of wondering... I also contemplate the impact of my actions on my daughter, what aspects of me is she absorbing into her unconscious? I don't think we can wish away our mistakes, although I do, because there may be valuable lessons buried within them - for ourselves, for them.

Thank you for articulating this so beautifully so I could see what echoes in my own experience of motherhood from an artful angle.

alison said...

you can bet that i'm counting on the grace of jesus to wipe many of my mistakes from the memories of my children. and mine.

'echoes of me'...love that.

Candice said...

Just beautiful. Your words flow so fluidly. What a great read!

Wow, that was awkward said...

You also pull this off with your words. I don't paint or draw, but I feel the same way with a blank page or blank screen. And I have read you long enough to feel your words echo too. You have skillz!

Chantel said...

Therese--you're right, those lessons are valuable, painful at times--but valuable.

Ali--amen to that, and thanks....sometimes my echoes are less than lovely. *sigh*

Candice--thank you beautiful!

Brett--dude, you rock.

Therese said...

I don't know why, but the soup I posted about today made me think of you. No lie. How random is that?

le Chef said...

I've kept all my echo boards. Maybe someday I can make them part of my house. A wall, a window frame, a headboard.
We do leave echos. Regardless of their value and strength, at least we were here to make them. What's worse; leaving a room full of echos, or removing yourself and leaving a screaming silence?
I'll take echos of any shade any day. :)

Mom et al said...

Beautiful as always, Chantel.

Embrace The Cliché said...

Lyrical and lingering.
The words combine to form a fine wine with elements so familiar, yet hard to identify. Only a simple nod to imply, "yea, that's the good stuff."

Chantel said...

Therese--soup is magical. :)

Le Chef--I love the idea of hanging it...and I so agree.

Maria--thanks love.

Embrace--what a lovely compliment, thank you!